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Asian Markets In Negative Territory

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Asian stock markets are in negative territory on Thursday following the overnight sell-off on Wall Street as the spiking number of new coronavirus cases in several U.S. states dashed hopes of a quick economic recovery.

Adding to worries, the International Monetary Fund or IMF forecast a deeper recession for this year, saying it now expects the global economy to shrink by 4.9 percent in 2020, compared to a 3 percent contraction projected earlier.

The Australian market is declining, with the benchmark S&P/ASX 200 Index losing 73.40 points or 1.23 percent to 5,892.30, after touching a low of 5,856.70 earlier. The broader All Ordinaries Index is lower by 74.10 points or 1.22 percent to 6,007.50. Australian stocks closed modestly higher on Wednesday.

Among the major miners, BHP and Fortescue Metals are declining more than 1 percent each, while Rio Tinto is down almost 1 percent.

Gold miners are also weak as gold prices declined overnight. Evolution Mining is losing more than 2 percent and Newcrest Mining is lower by more than 1 percent.

The big four banks - Westpac, National Australia Bank, ANZ Banking and Commonwealth Bank - are lower in a range of 1.2 percent to 2.1 percent.

Oil stocks are lower after crude oil prices tumbled overnight. Oil Search is falling more than 3 percent, while Woodside Petroleum and Santos are losing more than 2 percent each.

Qantas Airways said it will cut at least 6,000 jobs and stand down 15,000 employees as part of a restructuring plan due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it also plans to raise A$1.9 billion through a share sale. The airline's shares are in a trading halt ahead of the share sale.

Digital employment platform SEEK said that online job advertisements on its platform increased by 21.9 percent for the fortnight ended June 21. The company's shares are lower by almost 1 percent.

In the currency market, the Australian dollar is lower against the U.S. dollar on Thursday. The local unit was quoted at $0.6855, compared to $0.6941 on Wednesday.

The Japanese market is notably lower, with the benchmark Nikkei 225 Index losing 227.85 points or 1.01 percent to 22,306.47, after touching a low of 22,246.78 in early trades. Japanese shares closed modestly lower on Wednesday.

Market heavyweight SoftBank Group is adding 0.2 percent, while Fast Retailing is declining more than 1 percent.

The major exporters are lower despite a weaker yen. Panasonic is losing almost 3 percent and Mitsubishi Electric is lower by almost 2 percent, while Sony and Canon are declining more than 1 percent each.

In the tech space, Advantest is lower by more than 1 percent and Tokyo Electron is down 0.2 percent. Among automakers, Honda is down almost 3 percent and Toyota is declining more than 2 percent.

In the oil sector, Inpex is losing almost 2 percent and Japan Petroleum is lower by more than 1 percent after crude oil prices fell overnight.

The Nikkei reported that telecom conglomerate Nippon Telegraph & Telephone or NTT will acquire a 5 percent stake in electronics company NEC Corp. for about 60 billion yen, as part of a tie-up to develop 5G wireless technology. Shares of NTT are down 0.3 percent, while NEC Corp.'s shares are rising more than 3 percent.

In economic news, Japan will see April figures for its all industry activity index today.

In the currency market, the U.S. dollar is trading in the lower 107 yen-range on Thursday.

Elsewhere in Asia, South Korea, New Zealand and Singapore are all declining more than 1 percent each, while Malaysia is down almost 1 percent and Indonesia is also lower. The markets in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong are closed on Thursday for the Dragon Boat Festival.

On Wall Street, stocks closed sharply lower on Wednesday as it seemed traders could no longer ignore the spiking number of new coronavirus cases in several U.S. states. Fueling the renewed concerns, Florida and California both reported their single biggest daily increases in new cases of COVID-19. Florida's Department of Health confirmed 5,508 new cases on Tuesday, while the California Department of Public Health reported an additional 7,149 cases.

The Dow plummeted 710.16 points or 2.7 percent to 25,445.94, the Nasdaq tumbled 222.20 points or 2.2 percent to 9,909.17 and the S&P 500 plunged 80.96 points or 2.6 percent to 3,050.33.

The major European markets also showed substantial moves to the downside on Wednesday. The German DAX Index plunged by 3.4 percent, while the U.K.'s FTSE 100 Index and the French CAC 40 Index tumbled by 3.1 percent and 2.9 percent, respectively.

Crude oil prices declined sharply on Wednesday as worries about the outlook for energy demand rose after data showing a surge in coronavirus cases raised the possibility of another lockdown in several parts of the globe. WTI crude for August delivery plunged $2.36 or 5.85 percent to $38.01 a barrel.

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